Perhaps by now you’ve realized that we, the loyal attendants of the MTV Style brain trust, prepare for prom like most prepare for Christmas. Over the past few weeks, we’ve made it our goal to present you with a carefully curated guide to this one night, THE ultimate high school soiree. However, we feel there are certain parameters we need to discuss. Movies set ridic standards for prom by packing drama, hi-jinx, and MAJOR sartorial showmanship, but there is one aspect of fictional proms that seems slightly overlooked: the entertainment. Have you ever noticed how certain movies feature a prom band that is just a little too famous to be believable? I mean, not to dock the history teacher who moonlighted as a DJ at MY prom, but let’s face it, most prom committees just don’t have these kind of connections. Let’s break it down.
USHER – SHE’S ALL THAT
Usher DJ’s the prom in ’She’s All That.’
Photo: Courtesy of Miramax Films
She’s All That is an insta-classic for several reasons, one of them being the legendary non-sequitur dance scene that takes place at the prom. Usher just so happens to be the “Campus DJ” [Ed Note: a campus which includes LIL KIM amongst its student body, BTW] who, pristinely outfitted in a tux and bowler hat, leads the entire senior class in an impeccably choreographed dance to Fatboy Slim’s iconic big-beat jam, “The Rockafeller Skank.” Because we all know that practicing dance routines is exactly what high school students do in their free time. The dance number has ZERO plot-thickening merits, but there is something very satisfying about watching the same R&B superstar who sings “Nice & Slow” preside over a Bob Fosse-inspired skank routine.
LETTERS TO CLEO – 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU
Kay Hanley of Letter’s to Cleo sings to Patrick and Kat in ’10 Things I Hate About You.’
Photo: Courtesy of Touchstone Pictures
Before Mean Girls loaded our arsenal of catchphrases, we had 10 Things I Hate About You. The movie is pretty much a cultural fountainhead, and there are actually two real bands that play the prom. As Kat (Julia Stiles), clad in her iconic navy slip dress and obligatory 90s updo, enters the prom with Patrick (Heath Ledger), ska-punk band Save Ferris perform a mash-up of their original song “I Know” and The Isley Brothers’ “Shout.” Save Ferris never quite became a household name, but they deserve a holler for representing the third-wave ska situation that was SO ’90s and being named after our favorite movie truant (whoaaaa, totally meta high school film reference alert). Then, in the film’s one-two cameo punch, Kat’s favorite band, Letters to Cleo, make a brief, but memorable appearance to cover “Cruel To Be Kind” because Patrick, in a gesture girls only dream about, called in a “favor.” Of course, Kat promptly finds out Patrick was paid to take her to the prom and, in a tip of the hat to the film’s Shakespearean derivative, Taming of the Shrew, we all realize that “the sh** hath hiteth the fan…eth.” Thankfully, we can relive the whole scene on YouTube.
THE DONNAS – DRIVE ME CRAZY
The Donnas perform at the Centennial Celebration in ’Drive Me Crazy.’
Photo: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox
Drive Me Crazy is an exemplar of the all-consuming ubiquity of late-’90s teen pop. I mean, how many movies today could be named after a chart-topping single (you know the one) and include its protagonist in said track’s music video? In the film, wayward Chase (Adrian Grenier) and over-achieving Nicole (Melissa Joan Hart) create a scheme to make their respective crushes jealous, only to realize that their charade turned into true feelings (…didn’t see that one coming!). Chase surprises Nicole at the Centennial Celebration, and the two get down to the glorious gum-snapping sounds of LEGENDARY female garage-rock band The Donnas. Okay, they go by the name “The Electrocutes” in the film, but we would have seriously lost it if any alias version of the Donnas showed up to our prom. And fun fact: they also appeared as the prom band in the black comedy thriller Jawbreaker in the same year.
ALLISTER – SLEEPOVER
Allister as the prom band in ’Sleepover.’
Photo: Courtesy of MGM
Remember Sleepover? Alexa Vega, nice to see you at the Movie Awards on Sunday! The coming-of-age flick follows Julie Corky and her friends as they compete in a scavenger hunt challenge for a coveted lunch spot in high school. The girls eventually arrive at their future high school’s dance to complete the last task, and it all looks like pretty standard fare. Until you realize that the band playing is actually Chicago pop-punk outfit, Allister. Yep, these dudes likely dwelled somewhere in the depths of your iPod Mini. They’re a little more “Vans Warped Tour” than they are “prom” because any high school dance in the early aughts required at least one selection from the Daddy Yankee canon, but the quartet belt out their adolescent kiss-off anthem “Stuck,” and the girls dance with reckless abandon. Be still, my once-pubescent heart.
GOOD CHARLOTTE – NOT ANOTHER TEEN MOVIE
Good Charlotte perform at prom in ’Not Another Teen Movie.’
Photo: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures
It’s the spoof to end all spoofs. Not Another Teen Movie is crude, hilarious, brilliant and terribly uncomfortable all at the same time. The film parodies a bajillion teen comedies and makes references so unmistakably obvious that of course, there’s a conspicuously famous prom band! Good Charlotte, fronted by pre-daddy/husband Joel Madden, turn up to John Hughes High to cover such school-dance classics as “I Want Candy,” “If You Leave,” and “Put Your Head on my Shoulder.” The pic infamously lampoons movies from the John Hughes era (Pretty In Pink, The Breakfast Club) and a few films we’ve mentioned above (namely She’s All That), so when the students start dancing a little too impressively, you can imagine our resounding “MUAHAHAHA” when one of them blithely says, “You would never suspect that everyone at this school is a professional dancer!” Perfection.
In the end, we figure suspended disbelief is a pretty small price to pay for pure movie fun. But if for some reason the Jonas Brothers show up to YOUR prom, you better send us pics.